“Diversity is beauty”: A Somali refugee-turned-model has worn the hijab on fashion’s top runways
After US president Donald Trump’s electoral victory in November, some Muslim women in America reported feeling scared to wear a hijab in public. Less than a month later, 19-year-old Halima Aden competed in the Miss Minnesota pageant wearing the head covering, as well as a burkini during the swimsuit portion.
“I hope to show Muslim women and young women of all backgrounds that they are represented in the world of fashion,” she says. “I truly believe diversity is beauty.”
Aden was born in the Kenyan refugee camp of Kakuma, where she lived until the age of 6. Her family sought asylum in the US and eventually moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota. She remembers the camp, made up of Somali, Sudanese, and Ethiopian refugees, as a place that showed her the importance of diversity and acceptance. “Moving to the US was an adjustment,” she said. “I noticed that the kids played in groups. Back in Kakuma, everyone played together.”
“I am proud of being a Somali-American Muslim and my wardrobe has been an important part of my religious and cultural upbringing. I am most comfortable in a hijab and dressed modestly. You don’t have to show a lot of skin to be beautiful.”